Nora Catlin: Friendship in the Qur’an

Conflict resolution is the transformation of enmity into friendship, which comes from a place of deep faith. Piety is peace building. Peace is the absence of violence, and positive peace goes beyond that with the encouragement of restoring relationships and creating constructive and sustainable solutions to conflict. The Qur’an encourages active peacebuilding: don’t just avoid participation in conflict but take part in resolving conflicts between two other factions. This is called the third party view “if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah . And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (49:9) In an occasion of war or violence, one cannot be neutral. War is inhuman, and peacemaking is obligatory in accordance with the Qur’an. Similarly, the concept of an interreligious conflict is an oxymoron: religion exists to create relations, not discord.

Furthermore, justice is an important consideration in an understanding of conflict. Allah orders justice in the Qur’an: “Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice.” (4:58) There is an expectation for people to be just — it is like the groundfloor of morality. To be a good friend, one has to want justice for more than just themselves, they must seek it out for other people. Humankind needs relationships to survive, and the basis of these come with justice and understanding.

A large part of faith is connection, to other people and to the Divine. Personally, I believe in the goodness of all people as a religious philosophy — the goodness or the Divine light in people is what allows them to connect and appreciate one another. In most religions, there is a sense of respect between all beings because we are connected by something more, and the Qur’an explains that concept in an explicable way. Instead of an inner personal divine light as I see it, the Qur’an shows readers that Allah is watching what you do, and counting on you to do the right moral action. There is so much to comprehend on the topics of friendship and forgiveness from the Qur’an, and most of understanding comes from personal interpretation and experience.